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How many Chicago mayors have graduated from a Chicago public high school?

By Steve Bogira  |  Chicago Reader

I’m sure Mayor Emanuel cares about Chicago’s children and wants them to have the best schooling possible. But maybe his interest in the city’s schools would be keener if he had a personal history with them—if he himself was a Chicago public school alum. That, however, hasn’t been true of many Chicago mayors.

Emanuel spent his early childhood on Chicago’s north side. His parents sent Rahm and his two brothers not to the neighborhood public school but to Anshe Emet, a Jewish school in Lakeview. Students at Emet got “lots of individual attention and heavy doses of art, music, and theater,” Rahm’s older brother Ezekiel wrote in Brothers Emanuel, his book about the three successful brothers, published a year ago. When Rahm was eight, the family moved to Wilmette, where the brothers continued their superb education in the New Trier Township public school district, whose students were wealthy and white. The brothers ultimately graduated from prestigious New Trier high school.

If Emanuel’s lavish reelection campaign is somehow derailed, the person who replaces him as mayor won’t be a CPS product either. Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, one of Emanuel’s two chief opponents, graduated from Saint Procopius elementary and Saint Rita high school. Alderman Bob Fioretti, the mayor’s other main rival, graduated from Saint Anthony elementary and Mendel Catholic high school.

I knew that not many CPS alums had ended up in the seat of power on the fifth floor of City Hall, but I wondered how uncommon it actually was. Last week, with the help of Lyle Benedict, ace municipal reference librarian at the Harold Washington Library Center, I learned that it was even rarer than I thought.